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Thread: M.40 KIA helmet, bloodstain testing

  1. #1
    Community Organizer Hambone's Avatar
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    Default M.40 KIA helmet, bloodstain testing

    I picked this helmet up on a trade. It came from a fellow who is a teacher and was given it by the family of one of his students. The helmet was found among the possessions of the student's uncle, who passed away, and who was the WW2 vet who brought it back. The fellow I got it from eventually got the deceased uncle's name from the family and I ran the name in the archives. I found that he was indeed an NCO and WW2 ETO combat veteran. I'm trying now, without luck, to identify his unit.

    The stains on the inside of the liner match with areas where it looks like a bullet (not shrapnel) penetrated the leather at Behrens forehead. I was the first to untie the liner. Looks like a .30 cal bullet came in at the trajectory shown. I think Behrens had his head down and to the left, as is a typical reaction of soldiers under fire or advancing into it. Thus, the bullet could have caused some facial damage and gone into the upper left shoulder or chest. He likely went down as you can see where blood pooled in the front of the helmet, and a matching stain on the outside where blood could have leaked out the hole and pooled up on the outside of the helmet, but in the same spot. I performed blood test analysis with a crime labe kit on the stains and they came back positive. I'll provide the results later.

    I also asked for a medical opinion from a buddy of mine, a doctor and militaria collector who is familiar with the diagnosis and treatment of traumatic head wounds as well as having a great knowledge of military history and medical treatment of that time. My question was whether or not this would have been fatal to Behrens. His response:

    "I don't think it's a survivable wound. That bullet plus whatever else peeled off that helmet would have fragmented (unless an AP round was used, which was commonly used by GIs in rifles but not generally in machine guns supporting infantry) into a high velocity load of buckshot and exposed enough brain that if he didn't die right then, he wouldn't have had long. Medics on all sides usually didn't consider open skulls with brains missing worth wasting time and supplies on. And, since you have evidence the blood pooled, then it means he likely laid there long enough in the original position he hit the ground in after being hit until he bled out or his heart quit beating before he bled out.

    He could have received other fatal wounds as well, maybe the head shot was one of a string of machine gun bullets that tore into him. If he was consious after being hit, or if someone who cared about him was nearby they/or he would have taken the helmet off first to assess damage and wouldn't have seen the pooling evidence. The trajectory could have changed after tearing through that helmet to, might have come out the back of his neck below the rear helmet rim for all you know. But, the fact that blood pooled is a pretty good sign he hit the ground with his helmet on and didn't move for a while. Knowing that the blood would have followed gravity you could probably lay the helmet on the ground with the area that the blood pooled being lowest point and get an idea of his head position on the ground. Looks like face down from the rust on the outside of the hole. And again, since the blood pooled, the helmet staying on his head after impact."
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    More pics showing interior damage, blood staining, pooling. Note that there is a stain on the exterior of the helmet showing the exact pooling on the outside matching that inside. Poor Behrens went face down and stayed that way for awhile. The chinstrap is black, stiff, and I believe blood soaked. The inside of the liner shows a large stain at the point where fragments tore through the liner band and the liner and would have wounded the wearer in the forehead.
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    Community Organizer Hambone's Avatar
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    Since most of the "blood stained" descriptions one sees connected with German militaria is simply carnival barking for the waftarded, I decided to test the stains in this helmet objectively, i.e., scientifically (not to be confused with the "science" of the recent XRF ray gun dog and pony show).

    I used a Bluestar Forensic Hexagon OBTI test on the stains on the liner on the above helmet. This test is sensitive to human blood traces and will not cross-react with animal blood types (except for primate, ferret, and skunk; who'da thought). I wanted to confirm via OBJECTIVE test what 60 year old blood on a helmet liner looks like. Here is the information on this test:
    http://www.bluestar-forensic.com/gb/hexagon.php
    Note that perspiration will not yield a positive result on this test. Now for the test and results....................
    Last edited by Hambone; 04-10-2010 at 12:09 PM.

  4. #4
    Community Organizer Hambone's Avatar
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    Below is the area of the liner tested. You can see the minute size of the sample I used in the pic of the collection bottle and tweezers. The test flake was removed from the inside edge of the liner. Depicted is the scraping I used, along with the sample bottle and testing device. The scraping is dropped into the test media bottle and gently shaken up. The tip is broken off the media bottle and two drops from bottle with the media and chip are placed on the far end of the test strip, where the "S" is located. The chip is to the far right.
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    Moderator Peter U's Avatar
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    Hello Hambone,

    A super helmet and a textbook KIA helmet.

    Cheers,
    Peter




    Btw it would look much better on display in the cabinet of the "Peter U" KIA helmet collection :biggrin:

  6. #6
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    If the test is working, one blue line will appear at the "C" mark on the test strip. Negative for human blood is NO line at the "T" mark. A positive test for human blood is either a very visible line, or a weak line at the "T". The instructions state that "even a weak test line indicates a positive result. Different intensities between Test (T) and Control lines may occur but do not affect the interpretation of the results."

    Below is the test, which produced a positive result for human blood, albeit with a weak Test line. The strip marked with the "1" was a NON blood stain with for control. The strip marked "2" shows the weak line indicating positive for human blood.
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  7. #7
    Community Organizer Hambone's Avatar
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    The gentleman from whom I got the helmet eventually found out the name of the man who brought the helmet back, one "Ed Troescher". The helmet came out of Idaho. I did a search for that name and this is what I got:

    ARMY SERIAL NUMBER 20927310 20927310
    NAME TROESCHER#EDWARD#C###### TROESCHER#EDWARD#C######
    RESIDENCE: STATE 92 IDAHO
    RESIDENCE: COUNTY 005 BANNOCK
    PLACE OF ENLISTMENT 9276 POCATELLO IDAHO
    DATE OF ENLISTMENT DAY 01 01
    DATE OF ENLISTMENT MONTH 04 04
    DATE OF ENLISTMENT YEAR 41 41
    GRADE: ALPHA DESIGNATION 1#SG First Sergeant
    GRADE: CODE 2 First Sergeant
    BRANCH: ALPHA DESIGNATION FA# Field Artillery
    BRANCH: CODE 30 Field Artillery
    FIELD USE AS DESIRED # #
    TERM OF ENLISTMENT 0 Undefined Code
    LONGEVITY ### ###
    SOURCE OF ARMY PERSONNEL 7 National Guard
    NATIVITY 92 IDAHO
    YEAR OF BIRTH 16 16
    RACE AND CITIZENSHIP 1 White, citizen
    EDUCATION 5 1 year of college
    CIVILIAN OCCUPATION 105 Clerks, general office
    MARITAL STATUS 2 Married
    COMPONENT OF THE ARMY 4 National Guard (Officers, Warrant Officers, and Enlisted Men)
    CARD NUMBER # #
    BOX NUMBER 0368 0368
    FILM REEL NUMBER 3.89# 3.89#

  8. #8
    Community Organizer Hambone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter U View Post
    Hello Hambone,

    A super helmet and a textbook KIA helmet.

    Cheers,
    Peter

    Btw it would look much better on display in the cabinet of the "Peter U" KIA helmet collection :biggrin:
    Thanks Peter. As you know, if it goes anywhere it will be travelling to Belgium ;)

    With your permission, I've posted one of your outstanding pieces below, also a bullet struck helmet, though a rare M.38, to show the similarity in impacts. Note the "skid" mark along the steel from the bullet base; you can lay a bullet right in it.

    Peter's helmet first, the Behrens helmet second:
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Hambone; 11-06-2011 at 07:30 AM.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Badger's Avatar
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    Great post Ham... thank you ... ;)

    Very educational and I learned a lot from it .....

    Regards,
    Doug

  10. #10
    Community Organizer Hambone's Avatar
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    Tks Doug. Peter U is THE battle damage goto guy. We've had a good many discussions on what real blood stains look like, shrapnel vs. bullet damage, etc.

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